So Much More Than a Hill of Beans

29 Dec So Much More Than a Hill of Beans

I have been at Montclare since its opening in 2000, when we had only 40 children. Those were very exciting days and I already knew I was part of something special!

Just prior to working at Montclare, I was in Human Resources at Simon and Schuster Publishing.  Having spent time in the corporate world, I have a deep appreciation for working in a warm, nurturing preschool environment! I don’t even mind the commute each day from Nyack! Seeing the smiling faces of children gives great joy and meaning to my working days.

My path to Montclare has been a winding one.  I was born in Fulton, New York which, at that time, was also home to Nestle’s and Birdseye Frozen Foods. At the age of eighteen, the only employment opportunity available to me in Fulton, NY was at the Birdseye factory. Like my mother before me, I stood for eight hours a day, my trusty hairnet secured in place, watching as a conveyor belt of string beans flowed endlessly by. In my heart, I feared that the river of beans would be a dreary metaphor for my life.

Always a conscientious worker, I ensured that no objectionable beans made it past me onto someone’s dinner table. Birdseye took notice, and I was soon promoted to the Brussel Sprout Division. Not really my idea of moving up! My short time on the conveyor belt gave me a greater appreciation for my parents who both worked in factories. Therein was my motivation to get out of Fulton.

I set off to NYC seeking adventure. Unfortunately, my excellent bean sorting skills did not carry over into my personal life and I married very young, for all the wrong reasons.  After twelve unhappily-wed years, I planned my escape starting with a much dreamed about college degree. I enrolled in an Adult Degree Program at Lehman College. What began in 1987, one class at a time, resulted 14 years later in my completing an Associate’s Degree at Rockland Community College.

Although mine has been a twisting and sometimes difficult journey which included a divorce, relocating my family, and bringing up 2 sons alone, I consider myself a very fortunate person to be where I am today.

When I left my husband, I found myself needing to secure my safety and child support, work full time, and return to school. At times, this felt overwhelming and without the assistance and support of the “Center for Safety & Change” (formerly known as the Rockland Family Shelter) I don’t know how I would have overcome these challenges. I developed the conviction that, given the opportunity and proper support, all women can accomplish their goals and achieve their dreams.  Currently, I serve on the Board and co-chair various events for this wonderful organization.

While I still occasionally entertain the idea of returning to school to complete a BA one day, I have built a successful and enduring career here at Montclare.  My primary role at Montclare is as Director of Operations, however, some of you may know me as a busy baker, a clown, and once a year, a card shark for our Casino Night!  However, make no mistake, my absolute favorite thing about my job at Montclare is hearing the children say, “good morning, Billie!”


Billie Castiglia has been at Montclare since we opened our doors. She is a valued member of our Administrative Team, currently serving as Director of Operations. In other words, she makes Montclare tick!